Harihar Kshetra Fair, Sonepur
Sonepur (Saran) is considered a place of exceptional holiness and the Ganga Asnan or ceremonial bathing in the Ganges is held by the orthodox Hindus to be unusually efficacious. But the great attraction of the place is the cattle fair, which is held during Ganga Asnan. It lasts for about a fortnight but is at its height for two days before and two days after the bathing in the Ganges on the day of the full-moon (Kartik-Purnima). Immense crowds assemble, the number of which it is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy.
The roads leading to Harihar Kshetra or Sonepur are thronged for days and in spite of many special trains and buses being provided, they are crammed. Goods of a very great variety and origin are sold at the fair, and also a large number of cattle, horses and elephants; it is in fact one of the largest cattle markets of the world.The period of the inception of the fair like the temple is shrouded in obscurity. Previously the fair was held at Hajipur (Ramchaura) and only oblation was offered to the deity at Sonepur. The fair at Sonepur appears to have come into prominence during the reign of Aurangzeb, as an European traveller Marshall had mentioned that even the traders of the far-flung Tatar Desh (Country) used to come in the fair to deal in commerce.
In former years the fair was the occasion of a large social and sporting gathering of Europeans. The Sonepur fair was much patronized by the European indigo planters of the nineteenth century. A large camp was held in a magnificent grove and the visitors amused themselves with racing, polo, gymkhanas, tennis, dances and visits to the fair, which presents Indian life under many interesting aspects.
Gulab Bagh Fair
Gulab Bag Fair was first held in the year 1919 within the limits of the Purina Municipality and was sponsored by Raja P.C.Lal of Nazarganj. Later it was shifted to the present site. Now this fair has gained a wide popularity and has become an important source of trade and commerce.
The fair is held annually in the month of December and lasts for a month. Lakhs of people visit this second largest cattle fair held in Bihar after the well known Sonepur fair.
Karhagola Mela (fair) had been mentioned in the Riyazu-s-salatin (1788). It is held at Karhagola Ghat which is the terminus of the Ganga-Darjeeling Road, on the bank of the river Ganga every year on the Maghi Purnima, the full moon day of Magh as per Hindu calendar (corresponding with 15th or 16th February) and lasts for about a fortnight. The orthodox Hindus look upon the day as an auspicious one, being the day on which according to Hindu mythology Kaliyug began, and therefore, a bath in the sacred waters of Ganga is considered an act of virtue. A large concourse of people attend the place, and the fair was in the past an important institution from a commercial point of view. A brisk trade was carried on in spices, iron, ploughshares, knives, razors, brass and iron cooking utensils, blankets and durries. But now it has lost its trade importance and is only a religious fair.
Khagra Fair (Kishanganj) was started in 1883. The fair is held towards the end of December and lasts for about a month. Before the partition of India in 1947 the fair was very important from commercial point of view. Previously shopkeepers of Dhaka (now in Bangladesh) and other places used to come here. It is reported that the shopkeepers of Punjab also visited the fair. But after partition the shopkeepers of Bangladesh and West Pakistan have ceased to come.
This fair is held at Bettiah (West Champaran) on the Dussehra Durga Puja andlasts for about fifteen days. It attracts a vast number of people from the neighbouring villages at the time of fair. It is estimated that their number does not fall much short of two lakhs or so. The most important feature of this fairs is the organization of a cattle fair where several thousand cattle are bought and sold. The cattle fair also attracts sellers and purchasers from the neighboring districts of Muzaffarpur and Saran as well as from Nepal. The cattle brought for sale here are generally of local breed and are poor in quality. All kinds of commodities required in daily use are sold at this fair. It is the largest fair in the district.
Bhagalpur is famous for Behula Puja. There is a place at Champanagar known as Behula Asthan where snakes are worshipped on Bisahari Day or Mansa Puja. This Puja ( worship) takes place in the month of July every year attended by thousands of persons. An important fair called Behula Fair is held on this occasion in Champanagar and Bhagalpur town.
Baunsi (Mandar) Fair
This fair is held at Mandar ( Banka) on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, i.e., in the month of January of every year . It is the largest fair in the area that lasts for about a week and nearly one lakh of people of the district and outside visit the fair.
A triennial fair, known as 'Malmas Fair' is held in the leap years in the extra month of the Indian calendar. The Hindus attach a very great importance to bathe in the Saptadhara and Brahmkund and other time-honoured Kunds in the Rajgir hill. The popular belief is that during this month all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon congregate at Rajgir and thus to visit the place at that time is a rare opportunity of appeasing all gods and goddesses in one single act of worship. Though primarily of religious importance the fair also adds to the local economy. It draws people from all over the state. Shop keepers and entertainers come even from outside. The total number of visitors is between 12 to 15 lakhs. The Fair lasts for full one month.
Another fair is held here annually on the occasion of Makar Sankranti for the last few years. Its duration is for 3 to 4 days.
Baisakhi Purnima Fair
The full-moon-day (Purnima) of the month of Baisakh is a very important date for the Buddhists. It is on this day that Lord Buddha had his birth, enlightenment and ascension (Mahaparinirvan). To mark this date a big fair is held at Bodh Gaya where the famous Buddhist temple is situated. Thousands of Hindus from the neighbourhoods as well as from beyond the limits of the district join this fair. The temple is decorated and lit up and the Buddhists and the Hindus offer worship to Lord Buddha. The Buddhist scholars cite the sacred scriptures of the Buddhists. The Fair is marked by cultural shows and exhibitions of agricultural, handicrafts, cattle and art products.
Gaya is one of the great places of pilgrimage in India and has special sanctity in the eyes of the Hindus. It is their belief that it is incumbent on every Hindu to visit and there make offerings for the souls of his ancestors. To save the spirits of the manes from the torments is the first duty of the descendants, and the performance of the Shraddha or funeral ceremonies at Gaya is regarded as a certain means to secure that end. The sanctity of 'Gaya Shraddha' is based on a legend contained in the Gaya Mahatmya, which forms part of the Vayu Purana. Hindus of all parts of India, Nepal and even abroad come to Gaya, especially during Pitripaksha, in the Bhadrapad (September-Full-moon day)-Ashwin (October-15th day of the Dark fortnight) months to perform Shraddha (offering oblation to ancestors) ceremony of their ancestors under the guidance of Gayawal Pandas (priests). Fair that continues for one fortnight.
This Fair or Mela is held at Brahampur (Bhojpur) village, which is at a distance of about 3 kms from Raghunathpur Railway Station. This fair is important for a very large transaction in cattle. It is held twice in a year (i.e. on the occasions of Phalgun- Shivaratri and Baisakh Shivaratri ) and lasts for ten to fifteen days. There is a Shiva temple where people come to offer Puja (worship).
A Social Event
Saurath is a village in the Madhubani district at a distance of about 29 kms north of Darbhanga town on the Darbhanga-Madhubani Road. Original name of the village, as mentioned in 'Tithi Nirnaya' is Saurashtra. The annual Saurath Sabha, that helds in the Hindu calendar months of Jyestha-Aasadh, is an important social congregation where the marriages of Maithil boys and girls are fixed up according to the reading of horoscope by the Panjikars ( Registrars ). Thousands of people congregate at Saurath on this occasion.
Other Hindu Fairs
Gupta (Fair) Mela ( Rohtas): Basant Panchami ( February)- lasts for 15 days.
Karaghar Fair (Rohtas): Thrice in a year. Cattle Fair, lasts for 7days.
Buxar Fair (Buxar) : Thrice in a year. Religious Mela (fair).
Singheshwar Asthan Fair ( Madhepura):Shivaratri to Phalgun Purnima.
Tribeniganj Fair: Begins from Ramnavami and lasts for 15 days.
Kusheshwar Asthan Fair (Darbhanga) : In the month of Phalgun (February-March)
Annual Urs of Phulwari Sharif (Patna)
Nearly seven kms from Patna junction Railway Station, Phulwari Sharif is an important Muslim pilgrimage. It has been always a favorite abode of Sufi saints in various times. Hazrat Pir Muzibullah Quadri was one of those in the 18th Century. The Khankah Muzibia founded by him at Phulwari Sharif is called the Bari Khankah. Sacred hairs of the beard of Paigamber Hazrat Muhammad Saheb is preserved here in the Bari Khankah that attracts throngs of his followers and a big fair is held every year.
Annual Urs of Khankah Emadia Mangal Talab, Patna Saheb
One of the off-springs in the family of prominent Sufi Saint Hazrat Pir Muzibullah Quadri had founded another Khankah during 19th Century near a tank called Mangal Talab that is situated in the Patna Saheb Chowk area. It is called Khankah Emadia that houses a Madarsa. An Urs is held here annually when throngs of devotees assemble and pay their respect to their beloved Sufi Saint.
Urs Chiraga of Mittan Ghat, Patna Saheb
A beautiful double storied mosque was built by Mugal Prince Azim on the banks of the Ganga at Mittan Ghat in Patna Saheb. The area was previously called Azimabad during the reign of Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb. This mosque was built for Mulla Mittan who was teacher of the Prince. It was the place from where the great Sufi Saint Hazrat Makhdum Muneem used to preach his disciples during the 18th Century. The ancient mosque still exists and is popularly known as Dargah Sharif. Every year, after five days of " the Eid" festival, an annual Urs Chiraga is held here when devotees assemble at this Dargah Sharif in great numbers.
Annual Urs of Amjhar Sharif ,Aurangabad
Amjharsharif is an important Islamic pilgrimage in the Aurangabad district. It is about 10 kms from Panchrukhia on the Daudnagar-Gaya Road (about 100 kms from Patna ) under Haspura Police Station. There is an ancient Mazar (Grave) of a Muslim saint Hazrat Saiyadana Mohammad Jilani Amjhari Quadri. His Urs Mubaraq (Anniversary) is celebrated here in the first week of Rabi Allab ( June ) every year. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims visit this place from all over India on this auspicious occasion. Holy Hairs of the Saint , which is still preserved here, are put on Holy Display during the Annual Urs.
Annual Urs of Biharsharif
There is a hill called Pir Pahari, about 1-km to the northwest of the Biharsharif town. At its summit is the Dargah or mausoleum of the Saint Mallik Ibrahim Bayu, round which are tem smaller tombs. This tomb, which stands on the south bank of the river, is held in great veneration by the local Mohammedans, who assemble here on the 5th day of Sawan to celebrate the anniversary of his death. The Chhoti Dargah is the shrine of Badruddin Badr-I-Alam, famous saint who died here in 1440.
Annual Urs of Lakri Dargah (Gopalganj)
The village is situated about 24-kms north of Siwan and has apparently derived its name from a Muslim tomb that it contains. The tomb is that of a Mohammedan saint named Shah Arzan who hailed from Patna. It is said he was attracted by the solitude of the place and had performed a chilla or a religious contemplation of 40 days. He also set up a religious establishment, which was endowed by the Emperor Aurangazeb. The anniversary of the saint’s death is celebrated on the 11th of Rabi-us-Sani every year that attracts a large crowd.
The Karbala was constructed 175 years ago by Shah Alam. A large number of Muslims visit this place of pilgrimage throughout the year.